High Cost Of New Sex Offender Law
It's a new law which is supposed to keep you protected and, especially, protect your children from sexual predators. Ohio Senate Bill 10 just took effect last month. But critics say the law will not only cost taxpayers millions of dollars, but will actually make things more dangerous.
Local 12 Reporter Jeff Hirsh reports on how a well-intentioned plan may end up backfiring.
It means more paperwork, more computer work.
"It's tripled. The workload for us has tripled."
And because of all that...
Deputy Adam Breeze, Hamilton County Sheriff's Office: "No free time to do anything else. If we need to look at some files, or write a warrant, or investigate some offenders, it really cracks down on our time, in that aspect, with the tripling of our registration with offenders."
Ohio has had a sex offender registration law for a decade, making names and addresses public. But Senate Bill 10 pushes thousands of the lowest level offenders statewide into the highest level ... and adds years of reporting requirements. For example, under the old law, bottom tier offenders registered their addresses with the sheriff once a year for ten years. It went on a website, but neighbors were not notified by postcard. Under Senate Bill 10, most of those offenders now have to register every 90 days for life, with postcard notification of neighbors every time they move.
In Hamilton County alone, 600 low level offenders are now high level offenders... same people, no new crime, just a new label.
"The sheriff's office is not taking a position pro or con on the law. They have to enforce it. They're simply pointing out some of the unexpected implications. But there's another organization which definitely has a point of view." "It's political pandering."
The Ohio Justice and Policy Center is suing to get Senate Bill 10 thrown out. The suit challenges retroactively changing someone's offender status But the group also says upgrading low level offenders adds fear, without adding safety.
Margie Slagle, Ohio Justice & Policy Center: "What the politicians don't tell folks is that most of the people on this list are not child molesters."
"Now they're being told that they're the worst of the worst, and threats to children, and that's ludicrous."
Until the lawsuits are resolved, Hamilton County is not sending out postcard notifications for low level offenders who've been upgraded. But if the law stays the same, postage costs will more than triple to half a million dollars yearly, because hundreds of notification cards are sent out per offender.
Jeff Hirsh, Local 12.
Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann and the sponsor of Senate Bill 10, Senator Steve Austria of suburban Dayton, have both said the measure is constitutional and will be effective in protecting children.